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Mushroom ragu

Updated: Mon, 2 January, 2023

Creamy mushroom ragu is the vegetarian equivalent of the Bolognese sauce for pasta: smooth, rich in flavour and yet meatless.

mushroom ragu

What's a ragù?

You can troll me for the choice of name for this recipe as much as you like. I know: Italian ragù or the French ragoût is a stew, evolved in Italian region of Bologna into meat sauce for pasta. Meat is the operative word there since it is a meat dish in both the originating countries, be it beef, pork or pigs ears.

The French are currently debating a ban on the use of meat-based dishes names for vegetarian food so there will be no more vegan sausages or cauliflower steaks there. Considering that I quite agree with the notion, what am I doing here with this ragù?

creamy mushroom ragout

Heston calls it ragù

Oh well, it wasn’t me, guv’nor, honest. It was Heston Blumenthal the chef, his recipe featuring in The Times on Saturday one week. I’ll let him fight the battle with the French alone since he calls this dish 'a ragù'.

And anyway, what might we call this instead, to appease the French?

Mushroom sauce? It sounds incredibly boring and it is misleading as the mushrooms in this dish here are chunky and the liquid is scarce.

Mushroom casserole? It’s cooked on the hob and that does not a casserole make in my books.

Creamy mushrooms? Pur-lease.

So I’ll stick with the name and skulk around while Heston takes the blame. It is, truly, a masterly recipe.

chopped mushrooms

How to use mushroom ragù?

It is super tasty and the addition of tomato ketchup is a stroke of genius. If you’d like, for whatever reason, to make it runnier, just don’t cook the sauce down quite as much as I indicate here.

It’s a ragu sauce for pasta, so the primary implementation is with a pile of freshly cooked spaghetti or linguine.

But it’s fabulous on toast as well, as a brunch or even a sumptuous breakfast dish. You can poach a couple of eggs in the ragu whilst it finishes cooking for a novel take on shakshuka.

Alternatively, scoop those eggs out with a slotted spoon and sit them on a toasted roll, with mushroom ragu piled on the side.

It can obviously also be served simply as a side dish, with steak or lamb cutlets.

mixed mushroom ragu for pasta

How to cook mushroom ragù?

There is an element of faff to it, since you need to cook the shallots and other aromatics separately, while the mushrooms have to be browned in another pan.

mushrooms and onions

But considering it’s a vegetarian version of ragu meat sauce, whereby meat is decidedly browned in a dedicated pan before joining soffritto et al, it makes perfect sense. Why should you cut corners only because there’s no meat involved?

Charred mushroom chunks then join softened shallots and herbs, waiting for the wine to be sloshed in, with the tomato products and soy sauce.

If the mushrooms have released a lot of moisture, the sauce will need to be cooked down until there is very little liquid remaining in the pan.

Stirring in the cream, seasoning with lemon juice, salt and pepper are the finishing touches, as is a sprinkling of chopped parsley.

cooking mushroom ragu

More mushroom recipes

Mushrooms, butter and a frying pan - that's a recipe for a simple pleasure. And these fried mushrooms will happily serve any meal: breakfast, lunch or a side dish at dinner.

Baked oyster mushrooms with garlic and blue cheese. It takes only 15 minutes to roast oyster mushrooms and they are delicious with a blue cheese sauce.

Flat iron mushrooms, a mix of cultivated mushrooms pressed flat whilst cooking, to concentrate and wonderfully enhance their flavour.

More pasta sauce recipes

Caramelised courgettes with basil and garlic: is it a sauce, a condiment, a side dish? All of those and more.

Classic pesto is made from basil, toasted pine nuts, Parmesan and extra virgin olive oil. Easy to make at home and more versatile than you'd think.

Smoky tomato butter with incredible flavour is a creamy spread, sauce, condiment, everything. The most gorgeous way to use a glut of summer cherry tomatoes.

mushroom ragu

Mushroom ragu

Servings: 2-4Time: 20 minutes


  • 2 large echallion shallots, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 25g (2 tbsp) unsalted butter
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 450g (1 pound) mixed mushrooms: shiitake, chestnut, wild, exotic or cup
  • 60ml (¼ cup) sweet dessert wine, like vin santo or madeira
  • 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1 tsp tomato puree
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 60ml (¼ cup) double cream
  • a squeeze of lemon
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley


1. Peel and finely dice the shallots and the garlic. Strip the leaves off the thyme.

2. Melt the butter in a large skillet or a frying pan over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, thyme and bay leaf. Cook until softened, for about 10 minutes.

3. Chop the mushrooms roughly. Brown them in batches, in a separate pan in hot oil, then add to the shallots.

4. Add the wine and cook it down to reduce; it will only take a minute or two. Add the ketchup, tomato puree, soy sauce and cook a little longer if there’s much liquid in the mushrooms.

5. Add the cream and cook for 5 minutes over low heat. Squeeze in some lemon juice, season to taste with salt and pepper and sprinkle with parsley before serving.

6. Serve over pasta or as a side to a steak or roast beef.

Originally published: Wed, 9 May, 2018

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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